Our Top Weekend Reads

David Petraeus says Suleimani killing reestablishes U.S. deterrence, Irish unification back on the agenda after Brexit, and drama among the British royal family.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in response to the Iranian strike on U.S. military personnel.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in response to the Iranian strike on U.S. military personnel.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in response to the Iranian strike on U.S. military personnel in Iraq on Jan. 8, 2020, in Washington. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, a decision that sparked widespread fear of war and economic turmoil.

The death of Suleimani nearly changed the geopolitical dynamic in the Middle East. Calls for a full U.S. military withdrawal were made in Iraq, and Russia looked poised to bolster its presence in the region.

Iran’s response was swift, but its attack on U.S. military personnel in Iraq resulted in no casualties, an indication that it wanted to de-escalate tensions. Tensions did begin to cool after Trump suggested the United States would not retaliate, but, ultimately, Suleimani will be replaced and the military infrastructure he leaves behind will outlive him.

Last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, a decision that sparked widespread fear of war and economic turmoil.

The death of Suleimani nearly changed the geopolitical dynamic in the Middle East. Calls for a full U.S. military withdrawal were made in Iraq, and Russia looked poised to bolster its presence in the region.

Iran’s response was swift, but its attack on U.S. military personnel in Iraq resulted in no casualties, an indication that it wanted to de-escalate tensions. Tensions did begin to cool after Trump suggested the United States would not retaliate, but, ultimately, Suleimani will be replaced and the military infrastructure he leaves behind will outlive him.

Meanwhile, the potentially disastrous impact of Brexit on the Northern Irish economy has increased the fortunes of nationalists, reopening the debate over Irish unification.

And now that trade talks between the United States and China are relatively stable, expect U.S. President Donald Trump to turn to Europe for a new trade opponent.

Here are Foreign Policy’s top weekend reads.


Gen. David Petraeus
Gen. David Petraeus

Gen. David Petraeus speaks in New Windsor, New York, on June 25, 2010.Spencer Platt/Getty Images

1. Petraeus Says Trump May Have Helped ‘Reestablish Deterrence’ by Killing Suleimani

In an exclusive Q&A with Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman, David Petraeus said that after years of allowing Iranian aggression to be unchallenged, the killing of Suleimani could restore U.S. deterrence in the Middle East.


Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, visit Canada House in London on Jan. 7.Daniel Leal-Olivas-WPA Pool/Getty Images

2. Harry and Meghan Are Leaving the Job but Keeping the Salary

The recent decision of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, to step back from their role as senior royals shocked the British public. But the monarchy has survived scandals before, and this time will be no different, Foreign Policy’s James Palmer writes.


U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the podium after making a statement on Iran at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 3.
U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the podium after making a statement on Iran at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 3.

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the podium after making a statement on Iran at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 3. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

3. Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment

The United States will derive no discernible benefit from the assassination of Suleimani, suggesting that the attack was motivated by Trump’s need to distract the public from his pending impeachment trial, Steven Simon and Daniel Benjamin write.


Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald sits alongside deputy leader Michelle O’Neill, North Belfast MP John Finucane and Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew.
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald sits alongside deputy leader Michelle O’Neill, North Belfast MP John Finucane and Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (second from left) sits alongside deputy leader Michelle O’Neill (second from right), North Belfast MP John Finucane (left), and Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew (right) during Sinn Fein’s election launch on Nov. 11, 2019, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

4. With Parliament Voting for Brexit, Is Irish Unification Inevitable?

The British Parliament recently voted to pass Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal deal, reopening the debate over Irish unification, Foreign Policy’s Dan Haverty reports.


Workers assemble Porsche 911 cars at the Zuffenhausen Porsche production plant in Stuttgart, Germany, on March 10, 2015.
Workers assemble Porsche 911 cars at the Zuffenhausen Porsche production plant in Stuttgart, Germany, on March 10, 2015.

Workers assemble Porsche 911 cars at the Zuffenhausen Porsche production plant in Stuttgart, Germany, on March 10, 2015. Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

5. Europe’s Green Deal Could Open a New Front in the Trade War

Alleged European trade unfairness and the continent’s efforts to curb global warming give Trump an opportunity to present Europe as a new foreign foil, setting the stage for a new round of trade disputes with the EU in 2020, Bruce Stokes writes.

Dan Haverty is a former editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @dan_haverty

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